Crossing the finish line this past Sunday at the Arizona Rock “n” Roll Half-Marathon in a time of 1:32:32, I couldn’t have been any happier. I had a goal of going under 1:35:00, and I was able to smash this goal in convincing fashion! I paced myself perfectly, leaving enough in the tank to run the last 4 miles sub-7:00 min/mile, and ran my final mile in 6:26. I finished in the top 2% overall, coming in 233rd out of 10,278 participants. I have never been a very fast runner, but this race was the first race in which I felt “fast”, passing runners all day, and especially in the last few miles.
About a month prior, I ran a dissapointing 1:40:54 in the Cape Corral Half-Marathon in Florida. I knew going into the race that the humidity would be a huge factor influencing my performance. I felt absolutely terrible beyond mile 5-6, the humidity sucking the life right out of me. I was forced to walk a few times in the final few miles as my heart rate was spiking out of control due to my body’s inability to cool itself. I was pretty disappointed when I crossed the finish line as I knew I was much faster than my finishing time reflected.
I carried this dissapointment with me all the way into the Arizona Rock “n” Roll Half-Marathon. I knew I had the ability to go sub-1:35:00, but I was nervous nevertheless. I began the race at a comfortable pace of 7:10-7:20 min/mile, just as planned. I maintained this pace for the first 8 miles until reaching the hilliest part of the race going through Papago Park. Miles 8-9 are mostly uphill, and I was surprised that I was able to maintain a 7:15 min/mile pace going uphill. As I reached the turnaround at the top of the hill at mile 9.5, I was feeling pretty good. I took off downhill and was able to run the next 3 miles at a 6:45 min/mile pace. I was starting to feel the discomfort begin to settle in at this pace, but as I reached mile 12, I didn’t care about how I was feeling physically and knew that I just had one final mile to the finish. I kicked it into an even higher gear and ran my final mile in 6:26, crossing the finish line having nothing left in the tank!
I worked incredibly hard to get to the point of being able to run a sub-1:35:00, with plenty of ups and downs, but being able to beat my goal time by almost two-and-a-half minutes was such a great feeling! Also, being able to place so high in such a competitive race left me feeling like all of my hard work over the past few years is beginning to really pay off for me. I am seeing myself becoming more and more competitive with each race that I do, and this is incredibly gratifying.
Growing up, I’ve always doubted myself and my ability to be “good” at something. Over time, I have begun to shift the way I think about myself, becoming more confident in my ability to be great at whatever I set my mind to. I’ve also come to appreciate the process of becoming “great” at something, although this is a relative term, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the triathlon journey that I have ventured on thus far. I have no doubt that with a little more time and some patience I can be a great triathlete, an elite amater triathlete for that matter. I have to believe this. I absolutely have to believe that I can be an elite triathlete.Why else would I continue to physically and mentally push my limits if I didn’t want to be elite, to be the very best that I know I can be?